Monday, February 10, 2014

Spotlight on Wellesley College

In case you have missed it... there is an art controversy in Wellesley College over this statue of a sleepwalking man in his underwear by artist Tony Matelli.
A realistic-looking statue of a man sleepwalking in his underwear near the center of Wellesley College has created a stir among the women on campus, especially as more than 100 students at the all-women’s college signed a petition asking administrators to remove it.
 And now, Sarah Mahmood, Editor-at-Large, Wellesley College has written this piece for the HuffPost that calls for the removal of the piece.

She writes:
We don't want the statue moved because we're prim and proper prudes, but because we'd rather avoid looking at a creepy, potentially triggering sculpture on our way to class. Would you want that sculpture in your backyard for the next five months?
I'm already lost... "triggering sculpture?" what does that mean? The answer comes a few paragraphs later, which is not only a fail for structuring the article, but also surprising, considering the source is an editor.

Apparently there's a petition to remove the work of art, and we learn from the petition that:
"This highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community. While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space."
 That answers my "trigger" question, but it does not answer the stupifying (and well-documented in this blog) and never-ending string of art censorship issues that continue to astound me.

At least Sarah Mahmood (in years to come) can claim the excuse of youth in her over-reaction on the wrong side of this issue, but the lesson here for her, and for all of those whose opinion aligns with her, is simple: "Art censorship is NEVER the answer."

My kudos to the Director of the Davis Museum and the President of Wellesley College for sticking to their principles and declaring that they have no intention of removing the statue until July 20, the duration of Matelli's exhibit.


Abbey said...

So let me get this right, once art is put in place, if anyone complains about it and want it taken down or moved, you pull pull out the art censorship flag and wave it high? Really? I'm disappointed. This scultpure needs to be moved for a never-ending string of human compassion issues. People who select art and where to place it, sometimes make mistakes and bad choices. Its fine to support artists rights but if you fly the flag every time ... with blind ambition and a knee jerk reaction, who will trust your words when you actually have a point?

Lenny said...


Thank you for your comment.

And yes, you are correct:

Once art is put in place, if anyone complains about it and want it taken down or moved, I will pull out the art censorship flag and wave it high?

It is never about the art itself, you see, but about those who want it pulled down.

And what they may come after once the art is pulled down.

We've seen this movie before and know how it ends...

Warm regards,